Lifestyle & Belief

N.Y. cabbies win right to take racy ads off their taxis


About 8,000 of New York City's more than 13,000 yellow cabs carry ads on their rooftops.


Timothy A. Clary

New York cabbies who are religious – or merely demure – won a modest victory this week when the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission agreed to implement a new regulation that says car owners must approve of the content of the ads displayed on their cabs.

About 8,000 of the city's more than 13,000 yellow cabs carry ads on their rooftops, WNYC reports. Many of those ads are for strip clubs, liquor and lingerie.

Until this week’s ruling, taxi drivers who owned their cabs but not their medallions had no say in what ads the medallion-owners put up, and this caused tremendous consternation for some.

At a public hearing before the regulation was approved, taxi driver Mohan Singh, 56, recounted what happened one evening when he parked his cab at his home, as many cab-owners do. “The car was parked in my driveway, and the advertisement was there for FlashDancers,” he said, according to the New York Times. “And my granddaughter said, ‘I want to be a FlashDancer.’ ”

Now cabbies have the right to refuse to drive around with ads to which they have a “reasonable objection.”

“You can’t just come in and say, 'I don’t like red advertising,' “ Ethan Gerber, executive director of the Greater New York Taxi Association explained to WNYC. "You have to say, 'I don’t like it' for some moral grounds.”

Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, an advocacy group, told the New York Times that the regulation “allows, for the first time, the vehicle owner to have some control.”

Drivers who lease both their vehicles and medallions from garages are still at the mercy of medallion-owners, the Wall Street Journal reports. Medallion-owners typically make $100 a month from rooftop advertising.